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Thu Sep 6, 2012, 01:50 AM

Saving on heating costs this winter by freezing my butt off

I paraphrased a title of an article I read a few days ago and thought it so funny I laughed for sometime but there's alot of truth to it. A generally agreed upon opinion backed up by research is that for every degree lower the thermostat is set at, there's about a 3% reduction in heating costs.

During the winter of 2010/2011, this house was unoccupied and I had the thermostat set at 50. At the setting, the gas bills for the winter was in the $40 plus to $60 plus range. 50 is too low but I'm going to try dressing warmly and give 55 a shot. I may have to settle on a temp in the low to mid 60's during the day and 55 at night but even that alone will be much cheaper then having it at 72 all the time like I did when I lived here full time years ago.

There's loose fill insulation the attic and it was a pain to go up there as every time one opened the access cover, a bunch of it would fall into the house. There also was no insulation on the access cover itself so a couple of days ago, I started work on fixing that and finished the job yesterday morning. I first made a new access cover and then the loose fill away from the opening. Then using left over 3/4 particle board, I nailed that to the area around the opening. As the loose fill had settled over the years and wasn't evenly distributed, I got my leaf rake and went up into the attic and fluffed it back up with the handle and used the rake to even it all out. After that, I layed down three layers of R-11 batt insulation on the particle board and put three layers on the back of the access cover which I loosely secured with nails and two wire hangers. I know there isn't enough loose fill or batts of insulation to get the minimum of R-48 recommended where I live (R-60 is preferred) for attic insulation but what I did is a big improvement over how it was. As I can afford it, I can add more insulation over time.

The relative of my ex-wife's who stayed her for awhile left three boxes of 3-M window insulation kits. Enough to apply to the 9 old single pane windows I have. At the 3-M website, there's a energy savings estimator where one can enter in the size and number of windows one has plus some other info and get an estimate of how much one can save using the product. My results with the temp set even as low as 55, the potential savings is $122 for the heating season. At 65 during the day and 55 at night, the savings is $137. Of course I'll be burning more gas but with the savings, it wouldn't be much of an increase in cost.

I'm also continuing to cut up scrap wood to burn during the sub-zero days in January. It looks like I'll have just a weeks supply of wood but even that will help cut down heating costs. While it often seems like most everyday here in winter is sub-zero, in reality, there's only a few such days a year like that where I live. Being just a short walk from Lake Superior, the nearness to the lake makes it much warmer here during the winter then even just 10 miles further in land.

So, with little expense on my part, it is quite possible that my heating costs could be well under a $100 a month.

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